persian new year: the harbinger of harmony & humanity
Spring is approaching, and the air is already redolent with the smell of jasmine and narcissus. Once again, Iranians welcome Nowrooz, heralding the New Day. It is an ancient and revered tradition celebrating spring with vegetation and the rejuvenation of the earth.
Persian New Year is a very special time reminding us of a glorious past and the way our ancestors treated the world not only with power, but also with pride and humility.
Every year, far from home, we all remember the sweet memories of our childhood, growing up within a loving family, enjoying our cousins, neighbors and extended relatives while learning how to love and how to value our relationships. We still can visualize the spring dances of tulips in the field, feeling the warmth of our decorated homes for the new year and hearing our laughter on the green grass of the majestic plains. The loving presence of our parents presiding over the ceremonial Sofreh Haft Seen, reciting poetry of Hafez at the turn of the equinox. Many of us with such sweet memories left our beloved land for America reaching out for a more enriched life. A life with more individual choices, more possibilities and new experiences. Some of us migrated even before the political change of 1978. We settled here to embrace those who were not like us, to love them, to experience a different culture and to learn about their way of life while sharing our rich traditions with them.
We were told that America is the land of freedom, equality and opportunity for all. We heard of George Washington and the Founding Fathers, who wrote a magnificent piece of literature called The Constitution, the crown jewel of American democracy, with the intent of providing everyone with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Today, as an American citizen for more than forty years, I am wondering what happened to that America. And once again I celebrate my new year with a heavy heart, not knowing what will happen to my motherland, Iran, home of Cyrus the Great, the practitioner of the oldest democracy in the world.
On this side of the ocean, my new home, America, has also changed over the years. In the name of nationalism and patriotism, racial divide, bigotry and prejudice has divided our communities while political correctness and civility seems to be traits of a distant past. Knowing that there isn’t a simple panacea for past mistakes or for current evils, I remain optimistic about human goodwill, decency and benevolence. However, with optimism comes responsibility. We are all responsible to push back against division and invite unity. We are all responsible to un-invite the
demagogue and welcome the peace maker. We are all responsible to push back against alternative facts, so that the truth can be heard.
Let us allow Nowrooz, the harbinger of harmony and humanity, to be our springboard to that righteous future and march toward 2021, as we seek unity and peace for all.
Let us hope, as spring revives nature with beauty and freshness, that our minds will be enriched by good judgment and our hearts adored with love and understanding for humanity. Let that spirit of Nowrooz spring eternal.